Several students and alumni who worked on innovation lab projects presented at the recent 52nd annual American Peanut Research and Education Society conference, held this year online.
In his presentation, “Approaches to Minimizing Aflatoxin Contamination in the Field, During Drying and in Storage in Southern Ghana,” William Ofori Appaw presented the findings from research conducted under the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (2012-2017). That research into minimizing aflatoxin contamination through sustainable and cost-effective methods has been recognized globally for its potential as a disruptive innovation and is being scaled out and deployed to smallholder farmers in Ghana.
Through a value-chain evaluation project under PMIL, Appaw and others explored how a combination of pre- and post-harvest practices is more effective for curbing aflatoxin than a strategy that focuses on just preharvest, drying, storage or processing solutions alone.
During the 2016-2017 growing season, researchers used a 2x2x2 factoral design to test traditional and improved practices for growing, drying and storage using a local variety, Konkoma, planted in Drobonso and Ejura in the Ashanti region.
Improved growing practices included applying oyster shell for calcium and potash for aphid control, as well as weeding twice on plots of 20 rows, each of 20 meters.
Researchers then tested improved and traditional practices at two other points in the value chain – drying (on a tarp or bare ground) and storage (either in a hermetically sealed bag on a pallet or a poly sack on a cement floor). This allowed them to weigh the cumulative effect of interventions, as well as the limited impact of implementing an improved practice at just one stage of production or processing.
The researchers tracked how a combination of improved practices saved yield and quality, essentially paying for the investment in inputs needed. That work led to the development of the AflaCheck Pack, a peanut production pack that was named one of the top six disruptive ideas at the Aflatoxin-Free Food System Elevator Pitch Competition in 2019 organized by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Sight and Life, Mars Incorporated and Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN).
Partners now are deploying this AflaCheck Pack through extension and NGO groups.
Other presenters included:
- Jennifer Abogoom, a Borlaugh Higher Education in Agricultural Research and Development (BHEARD) scholar, who presented “Evaluation of Perceptions, Preferences and Quality of Peanut Seed in Ghana”
- Stephen Arthur, a student under both PMIL and the current Peanut Innovation Lab on “Financial Returns for Weed and Disease Management Inputs in Peanuts in Southern Ghana.” Arthur is completing a PhD through Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
- Ivan Chapu, a master’s student at Makerere Regional Center for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI), in Uganda, on “High-throughput Phenotyping for Disease and Drought Stress Selection in Groundnut (Arachis hypogea L.).”
- Leslie Commey, a KNUST master’s student researching at Texas Tech University, on “Seed Coat Biochemicals Mediate Aspergillus flavus Resistance in Peanut.”
- Emmanuel Sie, a master’s student from the University of Ghana, on “Field Phenotyping of Biotic and Abiotic Stress in Peanut for Increased Genetic Gains in Ghana.”